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Lafarge Perlmooser upgrades transport system (Austria)

Cement and environment protection? A perfect combination at Lafarge Perlmooser, where used tires are used as an alternative energy source for cement production. Controlled by straton and zenon, the completely renewed tire transport system supplies the rotary furnace with about 25 % of the fuel required per hour.

Lafarge Perlmooser (Austria)

Lafarge Perlmooser (Austria)

Success Story

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The project


  • 50 drives, including 34 frequency converters, via Profibus
  • 4 WAGO field bus controllers with straton
  • 7 WAGO industrial PCs with straton
  • straton soft-PLC on a PC
  • straton Online Change
  • straton Binding
  • zenon redundant control system
  • zenon Web Server Pro


The company Lafarge was founded in France in 1833. Today, it employs about 71,000 people in 70 countries. Since 1997, Perlmooser Zementwerke is a 100% subsidiary of the Lafarge group, operating under the name Lafarge Perlmooser GmbH.


Energy from tires


Cement plants show a great potential of substituting fuel with certain waste materials. Using alternative fuel for cement production saves natural resources and reduces CO2 emission. Lafarge Perlmooser protects the environment and saves resources in many ways, for example by using used tires as fuel.


The employees of MGX Automation have been familiar with the plant since 1991 and were now commissioned to renew and upgrade several parts of the plant. This was supposed to reduce operating costs and increase production output. An important subproject: renewing the tire transport system.


Wolfgang Luger, head of the project department in the plant in Retznei: “We replaced about 25 % of the fuel required for our rotary furnace with used tires. In fall 2007, we decided to completely renew the electrical equipment and automation of the used tire system. We wanted a quick change and also consider some requirements brought forward by our operators. Above all, we wanted to enable them to solve transport problems as centrally as possible. Until now, solving such problems was a labor intensive task, as it involved covering long distances. We entrusted MGX Automation with the project, because we have known their employees for a long time and they have turned out to be a flexible partner for solving our automation tasks.”


A perfect team for smart solutions: straton® and zenon®


MGX Automation was facing an interesting challenge: The transport system required an electro-technical renewal within a short time. The project plan also included state-of-the-art automation and process optimization.

On the way to their utilization, the used tires are first picked up by an automatic crane transporting them to a slat conveyor. From there, they are conveyed through a separating system where they are analyzed and separated by a laser scanner.

The scanner system transfers the collected data via Modbus TCP to straton. In the same way, straton sends target values to the system, which then checks tires for parameters like maximum diameter or the presence of rims. Tires matching these requirements are conveyed past a weighing station and then into the rotary furnace.  

For this transport path, a total of 30 frequency converter drives – for slat conveyors, roller conveyors and conveyor belts – had to be connected to the PLC via Profibus DP.  The electro-technical structure experienced a complete reorganization and the motor circuit cases [1]  with the frequency converters were placed directly at the drives.

MGX Automation chose the HMI/SCADA system zenon as the redundant control system. For controlling the heterogeneous PLC world of WAGO and Siemens slaves, they chose straton by COPALP. straton and zenon are very open considering other protocols and allow for the smooth communication with existing automation components via protocols like Profibus DP, ModbusTCP and IEC 60870-5-104.

straton also interfaces smoothly with the WAGO 750/753 field bus node and the Siemens ET200S, which has been in use at Lafarge Perlmooser for a long time. This degree of flexibility and openness was a decisive factor for using straton. However, it was not the only reason by far.

As the system experiences constant extensions, the engineers of MGX Automation took great care to enable redundant operation from the very start. With straton, this is very simple and secure to implement. The special thing about it: straton uses the existing hardware for redundant systems; there will be no further costs for any additional devices.

Another fact that was well received by Lafarge Perlmooser was straton’s capability for Online Change, which allows importing program changes during operation. Interrupting the operation of process automation systems like the ones at Lafarge Perlmooser would involve lots of problems and costs. With straton and zenon it becomes natural to integrate changes without stopping the system.

straton's Binding feature offers a very comfortable way of dividing the overall process into several decentralized intelligences that stay in contact without any extra cable connections. This way, parts of the conveying system that are far from each other were integrated into the overall system in a very elegant way.

zenon and straton cooperate perfectly and interface with nearly any hardware. Therefore, Lafarge Perlmooser can employ and swap PLCs as required. This allows for the flexible extension of the system and the connection of different projects.

Marting Grübler, CEO of MGX Automation: "We found the astonishing depth of the integration of straton in the control system zenon to be really helpful. They both use a common database and therefore variables are always available in both systems automatically. Additionally, we can use sophisticated communication channels like Profibus, Modbus and IEC 60870 for connecting new and existing system parts."


One-stop solution


straton is completely based on IEC 61131-3 and works with all current Windows operating systems. As opposed to many other solutions, straton and zenon are also proficient in IEC 870. The integration of the straton development environment into the SCADA system zenon makes it easy to handle variables via the common database and guarantees continuous support of complex data types and object-oriented engineering.

COPALP, the provider of straton, is a subsidiary of COPA-DATA and based in France. Their combined one-stop solution with professional support from Austria was an important criterion for MGX Automation. The decision turned out to be the right one during the project.

During the design of the new tire transport system, zenon showed its full potential for distributed engineering. The zenon tasks and the straton jobs were engineered in parallel, as they both use the same database.

Martin Grübler: “The big challenge for us – besides the short time available for the change – was to consider the optimization requirements of the operators. In March 2008, the system was launched in its new design. And we were able to meet the requirements of the operators: They can now solve 90% of all problems directly at the control station without the need to cover long distances.”

The tire transport system is not the only project realized by MGX Automation for Lafarge Perlmooser with straton and zenon. Several other projects are implemented – some of them in parallel. One of them, for example, involved automating a new clinker cooler: The efficiency of the central production process depends on this particularly critical system part.


WAGO industrial PCs and WAGO field bus controllers with straton were used for all these projects. A total of about 50 drives with intelligent motor management modules or frequency converters were connected via Profibus. These projects mark the introduction of a new optimized automation standard, which is the base for future automation tasks.


straton and zenon were also used in the LABCONTROL project. This system automates and visualizes the superordinate processes of a fully automated laboratory for production analysis and quality management in cement production. LABCONTROL is the communication hub between the conveying systems and analysis devices of the laboratory on the one side and the existing control system and process data acquisition system on the other side. In this case, straton runs as the soft-PLC, together with zenon, on a PC and uses the flexible communication features of the multi-driver concept for connecting to other systems via ModbusTCP, S7TCP or IEC 60870-5-104.


Rober Meixner is responsible for electro-technology and automation in the plant in Retznei: “With its convenient user-interface and its integration in zenon, straton makes work easier for our maintenance employees and allows us to perform program changes and even small automation projects on our own.”


MGX Automation


MGX Automation was founded in 2006 as a cooperation of several automation experts. This young company consists of skilled employees who can look back on many years of practical experience and who have known some customers of MGX Automation for many years.


MGX Automation offers engineering services ranging from the design of automation solutions and electrical design to software development and control system engineering. For the automation of procedural systems and processes, the focus of MGX Automation lies on environmental technology, water supply, energy supply systems for renewable energy sources, energy supply networks and industrial process automation.


The team consists of specialists for electro-technology, control technology, PLC and bus technology, visualization and process control systems, communication and data technology as well as network technology.




straton and zenon have common roots: zenon is provided by the Austrian automation expert COPA-DATA. straton is a product of the COPA-DATA subsidiary COPALP.

COPALP produces software and components for embedded systems in the field of industrial automation. The technology employed by the innovation leader is fully based on the IEC 61131-3 standard and tailored to the requirements of machine and PLC producers. They can profit from a flexible modular solution, from reduced time to market and from individual project support.


COPA-DATA is the innovation leader for HMI/SCADA software. For over 20 years, COPA-DATA’s successful process control system zenon has been automating, controlling and visualizing production processes and the allocation of resources in companies of many different industries like automotive, machinery construction, pharmaceuticals, energy or food&beverage. The COPA-DATA distribution network includes subsidiaries in Germany, Italy, France, the Middle East, the UK and the USA, as well as partners in many countries around the world. COPA-DATA currently has over 130 employees and has many satisfied customers, including internationally successful companies like Festo, Swarovski, BMW and Audi.